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Ways to Stay Connected Online During a Power Outage

Check out these tips to keep your electronic devices connected to the internet during power outages.

As more people work and learn from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to stay connected online is more important than ever. Unfortunately, sometimes power outages can happen because of weather conditions, unforeseen circumstances, public safety and critical work. Staying prepared for power outages and unexpected emergencies can help relieve some of the stress when it happens.

Here are ways to stay connected online when the power goes out:

  1. Make alternate plans before an outage. If you receive notification of an upcoming outage, try to make alternate plans, if possible. For students doing distance learning, check the websites of your school district or local libraries to see if they provide or loan hotspot equipment to connect to the internet or if they have temporary accommodations for students experiencing technical issues. Some districts offer local multipurpose rooms that practice safe distancing protocols so students can connect online.

    Consider talking to instructors about sending lesson plans ahead of time so students can download and view them offline.

    With safe distancing protocols in mind, you can also try to secure an alternate location with Wi-Fi, such as a relative or friend’s home or city Wi-Fi locations. Check your city or county website for a Wi-Fi hotspot locator.
  2. Keep a backup charger or battery pack handy. Prepare for an outage by ensuring your laptops, cellphones, tablets and rechargeable battery packs are fully charged before power goes out.

    Now is the time to revisit or create your outage preparedness kit, which should include an external rechargeable battery pack, solar charger or hand-cranked charger. A solar-powered charger can keep your devices charged if there’s sunlight, and while a hand-cranked charger requires a lot of manual effort to generate power, it can be useful during an emergency when sunlight is unavailable.

    Portable power stations can also keep your devices charged, including your router. Southern California Edison is providing up to a $50 rebate toward qualifying portable power stations available on SCE Marketplace.

    You can also use your car battery as a power source to charge your devices during an outage. Be sure to keep appropriate car adapters somewhere accessible. See more ways to keep your phone charged during a power outage.
  3. Use your cellphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Find out if your cellphone can be used as a hotspot to connect to the internet. If so, you can connect your laptop or tablet to the Wi-Fi hotspot on your phone, a process called tethering. Keep in mind that when your phone is being used as a hotspot, it is sharing your monthly data allotment with other devices.

    Tether only when you need it and turn off your hotspot when it is not in use to avoid running out of data and incurring extra charges. Contact your cellphone service provider to determine your data allotment and if any additional charges are applicable before tethering your devices. Learn more about how to connect to a hotspot on your iOS or Android device.
  4. Connect online with your cellular data. If you cannot get access to Wi-Fi, many programs and online learning platforms, such as Zoom, Google Classroom, Chrome apps, etc., can be installed and accessed on a mobile device or tablet with a cellular subscription. Contact your phone service provider for information on monthly data allotment.
  5. Sign up for outage alerts. Ensure that you stay up to date about power outages by signing up for alerts now at sce.com/outagealerts. You will be able to get notifications via text message, email or voicemail. Although it is best to always be prepared for a power outage, these alerts can provide you with time to charge devices and remind your family about your emergency plan.

For more ways to stay safe and prepare for power outages, visit sce.com/outage and for more resources and technology to support distance learning for all California students, visit the California Department of Education’s website.